Swapna interrogation: Jail DGP moves HC against sessions court’s order

Swapna interrogation: Jail DGP moves HC against sessions court’s order

Kochi: The Kerala prison authorities have challenged an Ernakulam Sessions Court order setting conditions for interrogating Swapna Suresh and P S Sarith, both accused in the gold smuggling case.

The Jail DGP has moved the High Court, challenging the said order requiring the prison authorities not to stand within hearing distance during their questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sleuths.

The court had given permission to question Swapna and Sarith from 10am to 4pm till December 14. Though the ED had sought to avoid the presence of the jail authorities during questioning, the Principal Sessions Court had not granted this. The latter however instructed that the jail authorities should stand at a distance where they cannot overhear the interrogation.

The HC has admitted the Jail DGP's petition, and will consider it after the Christmas holidays.

'Strange order'

The petition contended that the condition stipulated by the Sessions Court was unheard of, and it doubted the honesty and dedication of the prison authorities and the state government officials. The petition also pointed out that this condition was beyond the pale of the criminal procedures.

The authorities also said that when the investigation officer was questioning the accused in the jail, the absence of jail authorities was not ideal for security reasons.

The Customs and NIA had questioned in the presence of the jail authorities and there was no special circumstance in this case either, the petition contended.

The sessions court's order did not also consider the objectives of the Supreme Court's order, which stated the probe agency should make video-recording of the interrogation, the petition said.

The absence of jail authorities without sufficient ground could set a wrong precedence, the petition added.

Flagging court's observations

The Jail DGP has also questioned a few observations in the order of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate of the economic offences court, Ernakulam. The authority flagged Swapna's demand for security after her complaint about facing threats at the prison.

The petition also said that the court observations were made without seeking a report from the jail department or holding a probe in the matter.

The petition said that the Swapna was given adequate security at the Attakulangara women's prison. The court's orders in this regard are being duly followed.

The women's prison at Attakulangara has 21 CCTV cameras and armed police are on guard. Also, a woman assistant prison officer was deployed outside Swapna's cell, the petition pointed out.

The Jail DGP also pointed out that while scrutinising the observations, the order was found to be irregular and against the law.

"A complaint was suddenly raised. Swapna did not make this complaint earlier, though she was produced in court thrice. Nor was it alleged that Swapna was threatened or harassed while she was lodged at the Attakulangara prison or any other jails," the court noted.

While pointing out that the court had made the observations on the same day when the plea was filed, the petition said that an order should be given for another hearing.

Court's response

The Court observed that there was no reason to doubt Swapna's version but it has the responsibility to seek the authorities' report to ascertain the truth.

However, it had made this observation without first seeking an explanation from the prison authorities, who provide the security and facilities to Swapna.

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